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March 2009

Pacifica Surfer/Chef Laments Closing of Coastside Family Health Clinic, Seeks Answers

Greetings, Neighbors: I am looking for others who were affected by the closing of the Coastside Family Health Clinic. Mostly I am thinking of those of us who are on Medicare, MediCal, self-pay, or uninsured. On March 27 I went down to file for the release of my medical records, as the recording on the clinic's phone message requested. There I was told that the files would not be released to individuals, only to a doctor or institution. I don`t know any other doctors. My doctor at the clinic, Lorraine Page, was the only full-time doctor there. Being a lifelong surfer and a career chef,  I`m familiar with a lot of emergency rooms far and wide, usually for stitches or minor broken bones. which meant two or three visits, less when I started removing my own stitches and staples. I was a patient of Dr. Page for 18 years, and one of her first. Those folks in that clinic worked HARD every day, working for free often when needed just to keep the doors open. I don`t know the exact details, but what was printed in the San Francisco Chronicle was not very accurate. If you are in a similar position, or have information to share, please contact me at my email address below. There are folks down there without means to get over the hill to a hospital, many of them Spanish-speaking-only families with no care. Maybe we can help those without voices also. I would just like to know what the facts are. Thanks.


Time Travel on the Cheap: John Campbell's Irish Bakery in San Francisco



How many times in your life have you had the opportunity to tactilely re-experience a wonderful memory by smelling or tasting something familiar? And if you’ve been lucky enough to be transported back in time by something as innocent as a smell or taste, would you want to share that pleasure with others? If you answered yes and are looking for just such an experience, there is a little storefront bakery in San Francisco’s Richmond District that will take you back in time when you walk through its front door.

If you’ve ever wondered where to buy Irish scones (real Irish scones) or Irish brown bread (real Irish brown bread), there is a place outside of Ireland, next to a bar called The Blarney Stone on Geary Boulevard. It is an Irish bakery started two years ago by a product of Belfast’s legendary apprentice system. Master Baker John Campbell holds an Order of The Master Baker from Belfast City and a Guilds Bakery Certificate.

What this means to you and me is an honest-to-God trained journeyman Irish baker who specializes in aromatic, flavorful time machines of authentic Irish baked goods that will send you to the stony fields of Eire for as little as $1 per scone or $5 for a loaf of brown bread (which must be eaten warm with a slather of crunchy peanut butter to truly understand what it means to live in a smoky thatch-roofed cottage ringed by dry stone walls built eons ago by hands unseen). A modest, well-made scone or slice of warm brown bread can be a powerful thing. 

Scoff you may, guffaw you might, but having lived in Ireland for eight years as a teenager, I feel qualified to vouch for just how real and authentic the baked goods are that Mr. Campbell produces locally. The storefront is also authentically Irish, with its style of font and window display. And if you really want to know how good John’s scones are, try muscling your way through the throngs of elderly Chinese ladies who habituate the bakery as if they owned the place. That’s how good this bakery is: You have to fight your way past people of other nationalities to get to your own.

Of special note are the raisin scones, soda and brown breads, sausage rolls with either pork or beef sausage filling, and the raspberry chocolate bread. Oh my God, the raspberry chocolate bread—and yes, it tastes as good as it sounds. John also makes Guinness bread, traditional pasties, soups, and rhubarb crumble. Walking into John Campbell’s Irish Bakery is like walking into the middle of a time in your life you most likely have forgotten or maybe never had—that time when a sensation of smell and taste turned you into a humble believer in things greater than yourself. 

One way or another, sampling John’s baked goods will reignite pleasant memories and transport you to a place far, far away from your current state of mind for a fraction of the cost of a vacation. Pamper yourself this spring and take a trip to a mountainside that slopes into a sheltered bay, where little white cottages dot the landscape as they have for centuries. Experience the aromas and flavors of food perfected over the centuries, the product of a country that has populated the United States with people, music, and food—great food.

John Campbell’s Irish Bakery is open daily from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. between 20th and 21st avenues at 5625 Geary Boulevard in San Francisco’s Richmond District. You can call ahead to 415-387-1536. If you want to try Mr. Campbell’s scones and other baked goods locally in Pacifica, patronize Tranquilitea Tearoom on Francisco Boulevard at Paloma next to El Toro Loco. Tranquilitea has been open for a while now.

Mildred Owen: Rest in Peace

Mildred Paulson @ Sweeny Ridge

We are deeply saddened to announce the death of Mildred Owen, the beloved creative force behind Pacifica Performances and Sanchez Concert Hall. Mildred was involved in the local music and arts community for many years, and extended many kindnesses to her friends and colleagues in other organizations, including Pacifica Riptide and Pacifica Peace People. It was always a pleasure to see her at a peace vigil or in the concert hall, where she emceed events ranging from chamber music and classical recitals to Celtic and bluegrass bands. Please click the Comments button below to read people's tributes to the life of Mildred Owen or to leave your own remarks. We will post any news of memorial services when such information becomes available. We all will miss Mildred so much. "She was supposed to be here forever," said a good friend of Mildred on hearing of her death.


(Bob Pilgrim photo of Mildred singing America the Beautiful at the Sweeney Ridge National Park dedication ceremony in 1984, with Norm Dutton on baritone saxophone.)

Famous Semanticist Parses Mayor Loeb's Speech

PETER=2 @ Sweeny jpg

"Get a load of the prepped-out dude with helmet hair," says Peter Loeb of this Bob Pilgrim photo showing young Pacifica Mayor Loeb speaking at the Sweeney Ridge GGNRA dedication ceremony in 1984. Loeb rode up to the ridge in a car with S.I. Hayakawa (above, right), who fell asleep in the car, something he was famous for doing. Peter says he can't remember who the gent on the left was. Anybody remember him?

Mount Redoubt Eruptions Cause Dramatic Sunsets


MT. REDOUBT: Alaska's Mt. Redoubt volcano has erupted at least 19 times since March 22, and several of the most powerful blasts have spewed clouds of ash and sulfurous gas into the lower stratosphere. The last time an Alaskan volcano blew its top (Kasatochi in August 2008), similar clouds caused fantastic sunsets around the Northern Hemisphere. Today's edition of features satellite maps of Mt. Redoubt's sulfur dioxide emissions. Using these maps, we can track the volcanic clouds as they drift around the globe and be alert for unusual sunsets and other phenomena when they pass nearby. Visit SPACE WEATHER for more information and updates.

Remembering Jan Dutton

I went to the Jan Dutton Memorial Concert March 29. The music was excellent. I saw people I hadn't seen for a long time. Her collection of campaign buttons was particularly amusing. I haven't seen a "Jerome Waldie for Governor" button since I was a child. I am guessing that she must have lost her Adlai Stevenson button along the way. She was one of my favorite plumbing customers, and I needed to allocate extra time because after every job was complete, we spent some time solving the world's troubles at her kitchen table. We have all, whether we know it or not, benefitted from knowing Jan Dutton.


Emmanuel Williams: Good-Bye, Mildred

Good-bye, Mildred, and thank you.

Somewhere beyond the high blue yonder
beyond the long horizon
where dreams and visions await the strong at heart
to pick them up and work them into truth
there exists a shimmering city
on the near side of holiness
the far side of personal pain

All its citizens are gathering to
welcome Mildred. Free of aches and agonies
she glides down Main Street on a glossy grand
waving graciously like Queen Elizabeth
majors and minors bursting out of every bar
fine air gleaming with glissando twang
echoes of a thousand concerts
reverberating on cool galactic tides

Finally she descends
and glides into an enormous cosmic hall
to be greeted by the Mother of Cellos
and David with his humming harp.
She looks around
checks the quartets and the choruses
the locals and the internationals
the program notes the microphones
the infinite acoustics…
“Okay,” she says, “Let’s get this place organized.”

back here in our dog-eared suburb
we feel an emptiness, a gap
an aching silent space.
Mildred is gone
whom no one can replace.